Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the government’s press release on school funding.
“It is important to understand that the £2 billion of additional funding, that was previously announced in the Autumn Statement, follows a decade of real-terms cuts to school funding and rising costs which have left budgets teetering on the brink of disaster. The additional money will not be sufficient to cover increased costs in many schools and it is inevitable that there will need to be further cuts.
“The government talks about how this funding will benefit a typical school, but there is no such thing as a typical school. Schools come in many different shapes and sizes and many of them are in absolutely desperate situation financially because the system has been starved of the money it needs. School leaders are at their wits’ end of where they can make further cuts while maintaining a level of provision that children need and parents expect.
“The Department for Education increasingly seems as though it is inhabiting an alternate reality utterly divorced from what is actually happening in the system it is meant to oversee. There is a minor concession in this package over the removal of a requirement for schools to be Ofsted rated good or outstanding in order to be eligible for additional funding to help manage a significant decline in pupil numbers. But the reason that this is such a critical issue in the first place is because the level of per pupil funding is so low, particularly in primary schools which are facing this demographic bombshell. Some small primary schools are barely financially sustainable as it is and any loss in pupil numbers is virtually impossible to absorb.”